"Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world?" — Abraham Lincoln, Inaugural Address, March 4th 1861
Over the weekend, Texas Republicans met at their first in-person convention in four years to soberly chart their path going forward. The end result? A party platform seething with disdain for bike paths, Planned Parenthood, progressive district attorneys, drag queen story hours, activist judges, PBS and "the fraudulent research by Dr. Alfred Kinsey."
With such a hodgepodge of hatreds, the formalities were bound to go off the rails.
One of the party's most powerful national figures, Sen. John Cornyn, was booed for his recent bipartisan efforts to negotiate decidedly unambitious gun safety legislation. Sen. Ted Cruz was harangued as a "coward" and a "globalist." And U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, who lost an eye while serving in Afghanistan, was accosted with the epithet "eye patch McCain."
Analogizing someone to the late Sen. John McCain — who, for whatever else we on the Left might say about him, was a bonafide war hero — now passes for an irrefutable insult in a Republican Party still dominated by former President Bone Spurs.
If the amply conservative trio of Cornyn, Cruz and Crenshaw are truly RINOs (Republicans In Name Only), then the test of a real Republican must be how far back into the 18th century they're willing to take our state.
With that in mind, here are 10 of the most antiquated and nefarious objectives in the new Texas GOP party platform:
1. "There shall be no gun free zones in Texas."
Not even airports? Or houses of worship? Or businesses that post signage prohibiting weapons on their premises? Even Wyatt Earp and his brothers didn't let cowboys open-carry in the saloons of Tombstone.
Alongside the platform's calls to “repeal and/or nullify the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968," the upshot would mean that friends of any defendant could show up to court outfitted with bazookas to await a judge's verdict.
Sawed-off shotguns, machine guns, grenades, bombs, missiles, poison gas weapons: all were effectively banned in 1934, and in the wake of the Kennedy assassination, Congress added background checks to prohibit fugitives and the mentally ill from purchasing what firearms remained legal for unlicensed civilians. All that progress would be exploded if the GOP were to win enough power in Texas.
2. “We call upon the federal government to stop funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”
If sitting your kids in front of Sesame Street and hearing refreshingly accurate news on National Public Radio were helping you to keep your sanity in a country gone batty, prepare to see Texas Republicans do their worst to shut them off.
3. "We support privatization of the Social Security system."
Before Franklin Roosevelt's socialized insurance program for retirees, half of seniors lived in poverty. Today, it's 8.9%. With such a documented record of success, obviously those interested in dismantling public institutions would wish to scrap it. But 75% of Americans oppose reducing benefits, and by simply lifting the cap on the maximum incomes subject to payroll tax from $147,000 to $250,000, we could ensure Social Security remains solvent for the next 75 years.
4. "We support repeal of the 16th Amendment (Federal Income Tax). We support abolishing the Estate tax (commonly known as the Death Tax). We support defunding and abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, the Departments of Education, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Labor, Interior (specifically, the Bureau of Land Management), the Transportation Security Administration, the [Bureau of] Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the National Labor Relations Board, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and any other federal agency that is not authorized by the Constitution."
This is anarcho-capitalism and would be the end of the United States as a modern civilized nation. By the way, only 0.2% of deceased Americans owed any estate taxes in recent years, and the reason it's "commonly known as the death tax" is because a conservative propagandist named Frank Luntz cynically yet strategically changed the nomenclature. Of course, everybody hates paying taxes, but grownups surmise it's better than hazardous workplaces, shuttered banks, fatal drugs, loose nukes, mislabeled whiskey, illiterate kids, national parks filled with garbage, bosses stealing your wages, and warlords armed to the teeth running your town.
5. “We oppose all efforts to classify carbon dioxide as a pollutant. We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency and repeal of the Endangered Species Act. We oppose federally directed plans and proposals that favor renewable energy sources that may constitute a nuisance.”
Wind farms, "a nuisance"? As the Current's Sanford Nowlin reported last week, wind and solar are the only reasons the Texas grid hasn't collapsed under the current heat wave. The Endangered Species Act has a protection rate of 99%, and without it, more than a thousand species of plants and animals would have gone extinct. Please take a look at what some U.S. cities looked like before Marxist President Richard Nixon created the EPA. Unlike Critical Race Theory and transgender interscholastic athletes, the looming threat of climate breakdown is not some concocted hoax. And right when we urgently need to cut CO2 emissions to spur a green energy revitalization, Texas Republicans seem to revel in 106-degree days while salivating enviously at the polluted air and water of India and Bangladesh.
6. "Homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice. We affirm God’s biblical design for marriage and sexual behavior between one biological man and one biological woman. We believe the Obergefell v Hodges decision, overturning the Texas law prohibiting same-sex marriage, has no basis in the Constitution and should be nullified."
Most of us are well past bigotry like this, but it being Pride Month, maybe set aside a few minutes to re-read the majority opinion which made recognition of gay marriage the law of the land. Believe it or not, the justice who wrote it, Anthony Kennedy, was appointed by the patron saint of the Republican Party, President Ronald Reagan.
7. “The following are expressly forbidden even in a pandemic: any mandates by public, private, government, or medical entities for vaccine passports or mask requirements. Governments do not have the authority to determine what entities are essential during an emergency. We support preemption of city ordinances that dictate sick leave policies to private businesses."
So hospital administrators cannot require that doctors and nurses working with infants and immunocompromised patients get vaccinated against Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Flu or Coronavirus? Mayors cannot require mask-wearing inside government buildings while a highly contagious respiratory virus several times deadlier than malaria spreads like wildfire? Governors must leave pet groomers and nail salons and bars open, whatever the advice of health experts? And employees must decide between showing up to work sick, infecting their coworkers and customers, or not paying their bills? Is that "liberty?"
8. "We support our withdrawal from the current United Nations and the removal of the United Nations from United States soil."
The UN delivers humanitarian aid, tries war criminals, gathers global statistics, promotes sustainable agriculture and economic development, protects refugees, stewards international treaties and is currently keeping the peace in over a dozen countries.
Polls show 84% of Americans want the U.S. to stay engaged in the United Nations. Which raises the question: how do Republicans plan to shove all these massively unpopular pronouncements down our throats? Simple. By denying their candidates ever lose elections, by refusing to follow or execute federal law and ultimately by seceding from the Union.
9. “We reject the certified results of the 2020 Presidential election, and we hold that acting President Joseph Biden was not legitimately elected by the people of the United States.”
The numbers are clear: 81 million Americans voted for Biden, a full 7 million more than his rival, and neither then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell nor Vice President Mike Pence nor Attorney General William Barr — diehard Republicans all — believed that any voting irregularities were remotely widespread enough to alter that decisive outcome. Yet, in a fascistic turn virtually unprecedented in US history, Combover Mussolini attempted to orchestrate a coup by claiming the election had been a fraud. In a Fox News debate with Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has been alive since the birth of the Republic, neatly summed up the importance of the Big Lie:
"I have a lot of problems with the Democrats, but they are far superior to where the Republicans are. Many leading political scientists will tell you that right now we're looking, for the first time in my lifetime and yours, at a real threat to the existence of democracy in America. And you know why? Because we have a former president whose name is Donald Trump who goes around the country telling people, 'Hey, I won the election. In fact, I probably won it by a landslide, but they stole it, they took it away from me.' Now that happens to be what we call a Big Lie. And yet many of the Republicans that Sen. Graham is asking you to vote for are maintaining that Big Lie. What does that mean? It goes beyond Trump, it goes beyond the 2020 election. It means what they are saying is the entire system, you can't trust anybody. And if you can't trust the election results, what is the obvious alternative? 'We need a strong man.' Conservatives went to Hungary to meet with Viktor Orbán who runs an authoritarian-type society. So, the struggle we're facing is not just that Lindsey and I disagree on this or that issue, which we do, it is the future of American democracy, and whether we move to authoritarianism based on, among other things, a very Big Lie."
Lest we think this scaremongering, a World Values Survey found that most respondents under 50 years old who would support the Republican Party thought it's good for the nation to have a strong leader who doesn't have to bother with legislatures and elections.
10. "We urge the Texas Legislature to pass bill [sic] in its next session requiring a referendum in the 2023 general election for the people of Texas to determine whether or not the State of Texas should reassert its status as an independent nation."
Exemplifying the confusion of this mission statement, why "strongly advocate" that all public school students "begin each school day" by pledging allegiance to the flag of a country from which you intend to declare independence? One would think the issues of nullification and secession were adequately settled in the Civil War, but according to the Grand Old Party of Texas, we could use another.
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